Mar 1, 2021 - Health

CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions

CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

By the numbers: The most recent seven-day average of cases and deaths increased by about 2%, after plummeting across the country for several weeks in a row.

What she's saying: "With these new statistics, I'm really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19," Walenky said at a press briefing.

  • "I understand the temptation to do this. ... But we cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths," she continued.
  • "At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress."

What's next: Health officials say moving quickly with vaccinations will help, but that Americans waiting for shots must continue to be rigorous with their own mitigation measures.

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